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Discuss The Way In Which Power Relations Are Rooted In The Whole Social Philosophy, Politics And Ethics Essay

1606 words - 7 pages

Discuss the way in which power relations are rooted in the whole network of the social with reference to Foucault and Marx, outlining the continuities and discontinuities in their respective accounts of power.

This essay is going to examine how power is exercised throughout the social network, with reference to Foucault and Marx. For Foucault, power exists throughout the whole domain of the social, transcending all aspects of the micro and the macro. Whereas, for Marx, power is predominantly allocated to the economic sphere. However, this is not to say that power is solely found within economics for Marx. This essay is going to highlight the continuities and discontinuities between both theorists? approach to power. In an attempt to argue that both Foucault and Marx?s ideas of power together, create a clearer understanding for the stratification of power throughout the social network.

Foucault was a French philosopher, who was associated with structuralist and post-structuralist movements.[footnoteRef:1] It can be argued that in order to understand Foucault?s account of power, one must first have an understanding of how Foucault uses history in a genealogical manner, to outline discourse. Foucault states during ?one of his lectures in 1976, that genealogy is, ?the union of erudite knowledge and local memories which allows us to establish a historical knowledge of struggle and to make use of this knowledgeable tactic today.??[footnoteRef:2] Through the knowledge of Foucault?s use of genealogy, one can begin to establish what he means by the notion of power and the impact it has upon society. For Foucault, ?Power is everywhere; not because it englobes everything, but because it comes from everywhere.?[footnoteRef:3] So, for Foucault, power comes prior to anything, impacts upon everything and is within everything. Whereas, for Marx, he uses material determinism to map out history how power is related to the social. Material determinism is, ?the theory that all cultural and social movements and ideas are brought about by changes in economic and other material conditions.?[footnoteRef:4] This can be seen in Marx?s The Communist Manifesto, ??historical relations that rise and disappear in the progress of production- this misconception you share with every ruling class that has preceded you.?[footnoteRef:5] A discontinuity between both Foucault and Marx lies in their studies of history. Foucault has issues with Marx?s methodological foundations, as it is ?phenomenological realism? which is used to deduce a posteriori pure spatiotemporal intuition and the categories of the transcendental logic.?[footnoteRef:6]Foucault has issues with Marx?s methodological foundations, as it is ?phenomenological realism? which is used to deduce a posteriori pure spatiotemporal intuition and the categories of the transcendental logic.?[footnoteRef:7] This means that, through Marx tracing the economic matters throughout history, he is stating that one can determine...

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